Youniverse Explorer


Douglas Harding demonstrates his “Youniverse” educational toy, which visually depicts the process of investigating one’s identity, starting from the outer viewpoint of galaxies and zooming in to the innermost center.



And it’s a totally different view of the world to live from who you are. We’re coming on very presently to the practical—we’re not forgetting this—how you live it and what it, you know, what it means in practice, how you maintain it, yeah.



Douglas, are you going to tell us about the learning device that you created for children? The other, the, uh….



Yeah, yeah. We’d love to do that. Why don’t we set that thing up? Yeah. Yeah. I see that’s been getting a bit [???] over here. Yeah. Well, this is very—yeah, let’s put it here.



I think we’re going to take a picture of it. We’re taking a picture of it.



And this is very—I think we intended to show you this because it does facilitate…. Oh, sorry. We intended to show you this because it does make clear the onion-peeling exercise which I did with Jeffrey. We call it the onion-peeling exercise. And here we have this thing, which is called “Youniverse,” which is spelled Y-O-U-N-I-V-E-R-S-E. Youniverse. And there’s the girl with her face in the mirror, you see? Can you see her?



Yes. And you’re up in front of yourself.



Yeah, and [???] hand. Well, very briefly, the story of this is—I don’t… can you…? It’s kind of hard to see.



Why don’t you move back there for just a minute?



Yeah. Why don’t you come down in front here? Yeah. Well now, this is all connected with the question of who one really is, see? And we try this with kids. And indeed, I’m the kid that plays with it most. And I want to know who I am, and I’ve got two approaches to that. One is to look here, and the other is to look at mirrors at various ranges, as it were. And the third—well, three approaches—and the other is to ask people what they see; give me feedback. Well, it depends where they are.


And so these are the different appearances one can have. This is the nest of one’s appearances—like the onion, you see? And looked at, here is X. It might be you, it might be Jeffrey, it might be this girl. In fact, it is this girl. This is the X at the center. And here are the regional appearances of the central mystery, which I talked about. Now, you are the central mystery. Here are your regional appearances. And we start off here, notionally, as far away as you can imagine—before galaxies… well, where galaxies haven’t really yet appeared in the seen.


Now, homing in, looking always, having one’s sights on this X or mystery here, and approaching it from several light-years away, one comes first to this object, which is my drawing of—a somewhat tattied-up version—of what our galaxy probably looks like, the Milky Way. It’s nice to be like that, isn’t it, at that range? Don’t you think you look beautiful at several light-years? You look charming there, I think. We all do.


And then, you see, you say, well, homing up to this thing, lovely to land on this beautiful thing. But unfortunately, as you go up to it—well, fortunately—as you go up to it, why, you lose it. Just as I went up to Jeffrey, I lost him. So, trying to home in on this, we lose it. The observer loses it. It’s exactly like the powers of ten things at the Smithsonian. Nothing mystical. I mean, you’ve got it there in your museum. I don’t mean museum. What do I mean?


Anyway, the next thing homing in on here is: why, we have the solar system. And, oh, incidentally, we have other galaxies here, because you see those around, too, while you’re investigating. These are pictures of other galaxies, which are rather nice, aren’t they? Galaxies being, of course, as you know, collections of billions of stars. Well, here we have our solar system with the orbits of various planets, and the blue one is the Earth. On the other side we have some more stars with some fun there. There’s a children’s story going with this which we have on tape, and it also can be used in many contexts. We have wall sheets to go with it and so on, and tapes.


Well, homing in on this on the solar system: why, we find this. These are all you. These are all you. You say: “Well, Doug, that’s only what I look like from over there.” Well, no. I mean, can’t you feel? If this Earth were threatened from outer space, wouldn’t we feel identified then? Is not this your view? Is not this you? Isn’t this where we’re coming and talking about responsibility for this? Isn’t this even more truly a portrait of you than this one? Because this one leaves so much out. I mean, how viable is this? What would you do without your air and your water and your soil and your subsoil? I mean, these are progressively truer portraits of you, because they don’t leave so much out. And what would the Earth be without the sun? I mean, look: I could lose my legs, my arms, and still survive. But what chance losing the sun? So this is more me than that is. So taking responsibility (to use your terms, which I admire) for the Earth and the people on earth—who are me! I mean, it’s so obvious. This is me! I mean, I feel it, I know it. And in times of great kind of togetherness, why, one is indeed the whole lot. One’s arms go, love go around the whole lot, don’t they? One is the whole. Other times I’m just Douglas. Or perhaps I’m even an aching tooth. I mean, you see, I’m really as elastic as this. Really am. And what I did was just fasten on my appearance at six feet and say that’s me. No longer. No longer.


So this is very important to visual aid, I think you might agree. Now, but still, you haven’t, you know, that was the thing I got of Jeff with a mirror and so on, using it as we homed in. We’re still a long way from where he is, aren’t we? So we still have to make it through narrow regions to there. And we just have here a sample. Oh, on the inside, we have nice pictures to other planets and the girl with her face in the mirror. See? Which is rather fun. And then we have a leukocyte actually, a cell. And on the inside, we have some other familiar cells, which are rather—



So it’s how you see it from that position.



Well, we’ll come to the insides in a moment.



But I mean from the position of a face. Other people see you as a face, and you see yourself as a face in the mirror From the Earth, you see other planets.



Yes, that’s right. You’ve got it, Landon. You’ve got it. Well, homing in, again, on the look-out side: why, it explodes, as in the film. And why, you have—here, this is taken straight from a textbook, actually—a carbon dioxide molecule. It’s only a model, but it’s the nearest we can get. And then we’ve got some nice ones inside here, too. And then we have an atom—I can’t remember which one; Jeffrey knows—and it’s rather pretty anyway.



Is that carbon?



Carbon atom. And then we have particles. We’re still homing in, you see. And we have particles. These are more or less photographed and based on photographs. These are all drawings, but I think the drawings here are better than photographs. They can be consistent. And these are photographs of particles in the Wilson Cloud Chamber, or bubble chamber.


And still we’re not home. And we arrive here. That’s homing in on oneself. When I walk, one asks oneself and asks the kids, where do you figure? Where are you? I mean, you’ve got a lot of options. The common sense thing is to say; “Well, I’m there.” And I saw the man in England who was in charge of the education of the gifted children.






No, I don’t. I’m in England. London. And I asked him where he was on this. He said, “Well, of course I’m here.” But the kids have a different story. He was the education expert. He was here.



[???] the kids’ counterpart here in the U.S. he’ll tell you something different.



Ah, he says something different. Good marks to him. Yeah, good marks to him. We have a few friends.How long? Yeah, you know. Oh well, there we go.



So he has to advised you before, Douglas?



Yeah, of course. Yeah, yeah. Well, good. Well now, the thing I ask kids—and indeed I ask you kids, if I may say so. I’m old enough to be your grandfather; most of you. Anyway, where do you figure?



How did you feel that you were old enough to be our grandfather?



Well, Douglas is, I’m not. How much younger than you actually. Here. Anyway, where do you figure? I ask. And sometimes, you know, you’ve got several options. You ask the kid: “Are you there? Are you all the veins? Or are you primarily at the center, here, looking out on the whole scene?” And most kids that I know say, “I’m there.” The adults say, “No, I’m here.”


This has many other uses to integrate the sciences, make sense of the sciences, and show how they add up. I call it a deep map as distinct from the shallow maps that people use.



This is great.



And it’s a do-it-yourself thing. You know, cut it out with a card, these plasticized cards, and you build it up or so. And I think it’s a great tool.



And it is, it’s good.



I think it’s a great tool. Very simple. We’re simplifying the base and making it cheaper. I’ve got the US patent for it now, and an English one. I don’t know whether we shall succeed in interesting some manufacturer, but the market seems to be [???]



140,000 people would interested in it?



Well, I think it has, you know, what you can—I mean, you educationists know that what you can see, what you can handle, what you can make, and what you can play with really means something, because you’ve got all the senses involved. Also we have a tape to go with music. And it seems to me to be very viable.



Thank you.



And thank you for asking that.



To think you were gonna try to get away without showing us that. No. I don’t believe it!

Douglas Harding

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